Political and apolitical farmers in Nigeria.

June 11th, 2018

 Livinus Nnebedum

Today the high profile politicians, the Retired Army Generals, the Public and Civil Servants, the literate, the rich and the resourceful have joined and are still joining the business of farming. But how many of them are full-time farmers and ready to invest wisely and heavily in the business of farming with keen interest? Most of them are “full-time-politicians and half-time farmers” while some are “Half-farmers and half politicians”

Let the leaders of today and tomorrow recognize the rural small-scale farmers who fed, “clothed” and housed Nigerians during the Agricultural boom” of 1960’s when Agriculture was the major foreign exchange earner.

Political Farmers in Nigeria may be described as full-time politicians who devote most of their time, energy and resources in politicking but pay lip-service to farming. In other words they use business of farming to “decorate, paint and beautify their political business adventure”.

“Apolitical farmers” include those people who are devoid of Nigeria politics and have keen interest in farming as a business. They may be full-time farmers and can devote most of their time, energy and resources to farming.

They can also be practicing farmers. Practicing farmers are the Real farmers. Man as a political animal has elements of politics in him. This also applies to apolitical farmers because they are human beings and thus have some elements of politics in them. But due to one thing or the other they are not in the business of politics hence they are busy practicing farming.

Farming is a lucrative and prestigious occupation and if you really want to go into full-time farming, you should be ready to “soil” your hand in Agriculture. The issue at stake now is that there is need to have serious practicing farmers in Nigeria to promote Agriculture. The government should encourage all categories of farmers by providing enough incentives for all of them. Farming needs huge capital application. It is long-term investment although with huge profit in the long-run. If you are really serious practicing farmer, you would be interested to have patience to invest in farming. Farming is also labour intensive but Nigeria has abundant natural resources and manpower. But Nigeria youths laothe to take-up farming as a profession and farming is left in the hands of old men and woman in the villages with their crude implements. In Nigeria, Agriculture is still dependent on human muscle and result is low production per man hour on the farms.

Today many people move into politics because they think it is easy to make quick money in politics. Whosoever wants to go into farming now should have great zeal, invest wisely and be patient and serious in the occupation. Politicians today who are in power and have interest in farming should equally have more interest in providing farming solutions to numerous farming problems facing farmers in Nigeria. Farming as a business in Nigeria should continue to receive subsidy from the government.

Agricultural produce were the foreign exchange earners for this country. Thus Nigerian farmers in those days had been subsidizing the education of all University graduates in Nigeria. The exports from their farm enabled the Economy to bear the subsidies. Their food products reduced the need to import food and thus conserve foreign exchange. The journalists in various media establishments have important role to play in this direction.

The Federal, State and Local Governments should strive to make their life worth living in the rural areas. In their rural centers the farmers lack good healthcare facilities, their children trek long distances in thirst for education. There is no motorable road. They can only dream about water and electricity supply. They are completely out of the society for there is little or no telecommunication facilities. They can hardly afford to watch television or read newspapers. Hardly can they afford radio.

At dawn in the remote villages the farmers are already awake preparing for a long day of work especially every 4-days which is the market day. Some travel by foot several kilometers to the nearest big market to sell their farm produce. They carry heavy load on heads since they lack transportation facilities. Selling the produce takes most of the day and they come back to the village late in the evening. The next day, early in the morning, they are up again.

The farm products farmers take to the market for sale usually attract low patronage and low income. At harvest because those farmers lack good storage facilities and transport, they sell their products at give away prizes.

The big – time business men often invade the farmer’s farms at the farm gate searching for cheap food  items.They take those food items to feed the city dwellers and make fantastic profits at the expense of the poor rural farmers.

Nnebedum writes from the Anambra State Agricultural Development Program (ADP)

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